Digital transformation. It’s likely you’ve heard the buzzword at least once, but what does it mean?  

Digital transformation is about rethinking a business model through effective adoption of digital technologies. In other words, it calls for a change in the way you do business in the digital era. Failing to embrace this change could put your business at risk. Remember what happened to giants like Kodak and Nokia? The moment they lost touch with the changes in their industry and the customer behaviors, they fell from the top. And no wonder; digital transformation is now at the top of the agenda for nearly 40% of businesses around the world.   

Now, digital transformation is not at all straightforward. It involves changes in business objectives, processes, skills, strategies, and tactics on all levels to build a truly digital culture. Throw in the complexity and pace of changes happening in the digital world, and you have a perfect recipe for confusion! Not surprisingly, a recent Gartner survey found that more than 50% of CIOs felt their organizations weren’t up to speed with latest digital trends. 

Where do you start? 

Getting your business digitally transformed is easier said than done and you may struggle knowing where to get started. Some businesses start with their technologies — what to keep, change, or retire. Others think about whether to reorganize their teams.  

The truth is, digital transformation isn’t just about technology for technology’s sake. It’s about utilizing data to engage with customers and making them feel more invested in your brand. It’s about creating a consistent brand messaging, while operating with greater speed, agility, and cost-efficiency. Ultimately, it’s about realigning your company’s objectives, priorities, actions, and culture. Doing all of this at the same time can be overwhelming.  

How about starting with something that’s easier to implement and involves fewer risks? Focusing on how to create value for customers is a good starting point. One way to do this is by revamping your marketing strategy using digital tools and best practices. With a well-structured digital marketing plan, you can, for example, evaluate user demographics, brand messaging, ad campaigns, and channels to find out what resonates with customers and delivers maximum value.  

Also, because customers are at the heart of digital transformation and data is what drives it, digital marketing is a must-have for any business today. It’s one of the areas that can lead your company down the path of digital transformation by enabling you to collect data, identify the customer journey and then act on it. All of this at a comparatively lower budget and a measurable ROI. 

Here are some data-driven best practices that can help you innovate your business while delivering impressive marketing outcomes.  

1. Collect Data   

Tons of valuable information lies right at your fingertips. Be it data about your customers, data generated by your website visitors, data from social media or keyword data, there are plenty of channels to collect data that can help you gain insight into your customers and the ways they are finding you. Gathering this data is often the first step in your digital marketing process.  

2. Analyze Your Data  

Your data tells a story. Analyzing pageviews, paid search keywords queries, long-tailed search phrases, and on-site search form data are excellent ways to understand the triggers and motivations behind the actions your customers take.  

Detailed analysis of data from all customer touchpoints across the buying cycle is key to crafting relevant and persuasive messages based on where your customers are in the buying process. This type of messaging resonates with your customers and tailors the customer experience to them. Implementing solutions like Sitecore can help you track this data and glean actionable insights out of them easily and effectively, thereby personalizing the customer journey and enabling marketing automation.... more on this below.   

3. Put Your Data to Work 

Segment and group your customers based on the context and patterns that emerge from analyzing your data. This provides excellent opportunities to position your message most effectively. When you know the motivations that cause your prospects to visit, click or buy, you also know the problems they are trying to solve. Thus, it becomes easier for you to develop solution-based strategies. This is a great way to ensure your email, advertising, and social campaigns hit the sweet spot and are properly aligned to tackle challenges in omni-channel marketing tactics.    

4. Automate Your Marketing Functions 

This is an era where a stellar and seamless customer experience trumps almost everything else. This can be difficult to achieve considering the multiple channels and devices customers use to interact with a brand. Therefore, to offer personalized customer experiences, businesses need a high level of control over their channels. Only then will they be able to identify the purchase patterns and behaviors and utilize this information to deliver experiences that delight their customers at each stage.  

Marketing automation tools like Sitecore make it simpler, quicker, and more cost effective for you to leverage your data to take control of your marketing functions across channels. For example, with the help of Sitecore you can send customized messages based on customer/prospect actions, automate email marketing, create targeted marketing campaigns, segment and track leads based on data, and so much more.   

5. Use Analytics to Track and Tweak 

Finally, none of this works without being able to track and measure success. Use of analytics gives you a data-driven view of what’s working and what’s not. Keeping yourself updated with this data at every stage can help perfect your digital marketing efforts and refine your strategy in real-time.    

If your company is doing digital marketing, you’re probably already thinking about the different digital channels and tools to reach your customers. What’s going to be critical is how you leverage those channels and tools and take initiatives to bring these actions out of the marketing department. Once you have perfected your efforts in sending the right message to the right customer at the right time, it’s time to think about how you can make digital a part of the broader conversation in your organization.  

Remember this — just like anything that you're starting off for the first time, you need to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. The same is true for digital transformation. Data-driven digital marketing is one of the smaller steps that can pave the way for enterprise-wide digital transformation.  

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